Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VBS Recap


3 little letters that are sure to send any Children's Director into a tail-spin.  This year, I was no exception.

I absolutely loved the VBS that I prepared for our kids this year, but it was a lot of work.
I'm talking a lot of work.

When thinking in how to recap this event for everyone I've decided to share with you my Top 10 tips/tricks for planning your own VBS.  This was the first year that I ever planned a VBS from start to finish and I learned so much.  We had a fabulous VBS averaging 108 kids every night!  Jesus literally blew my socks off.  As I was preparing and praying for VBS my personal goal was to have at least 1 night of 100 kids.  If I could reach 100 kids just one night I knew that I was going to call our VBS a success.  When we had 110 kids on the first night I knew that Jesus was up to something big! 

*Throughout the rest of the post you will see pictures and tips as to how we decorated on a budget to make our VBS pop.  I threw these in just for fun! :) 

In no particular order, here are the 10 things that helped make my VBS:

1) I stayed flexible-  

I used a wonderful curriculum to plan my VBS and it helped me out so much.  However, I was still flexible to things that might or might not work in my particular church, with my particular volunteers, and my particular kids.  The curriculum was not my Bible for the event.  It was merely a map to help guide me in the right direction.  As I was poring over curriculum, making schedules, dividing rotations, etc I allowed myself room to make changes as I saw the need for.
     *Here's a great example:  On the 1st night of our VBS we had 110 kids and I had only prepped for 100 kids for crafts, snacks, etc...  My thoughts- No problem.  Let's grab some of our supplies for Day 2 and use them for Day 1 we can make it up tomorrow.  Did the crafts exactly match up with the lesson for the day? No.  Did the kids notice or care?  No.  They were having a great time regardless.
Being flexible was the key not only in planning VBS but in operating it the week of as well.  

Our snacks area was easily decorated with crepe paper from the ceiling.  

2) I threw a craft prep party-

Crafts can be a simple, easy, and inexpensive rotation to add onto your VBS schedule.  I purchased all of my craft supplies 3 weeks before my VBS was set to begin and hosted a craft prep party.  Two weeks before VBS I invited volunteers to come in during the day and help prep all of the crafts.  Everything that kids needed to complete their crafts was put into a small sandwich bag and was waiting for them every night during VBS.  This made our craft rotation easy and simple.

One of our crafts room decorated with plastic table cloths that only cost $1.00. 
An inexpensive but cute and colorful way to decorate. 

3) I hosted a volunteer training day- 

This was absolutely 100% necessary to have a successful VBS.  This provided an opportunity for myself, as the Director, to cast vision, go over policies, hand out materials, etc.  This also provided a great time for my volunteers to ask questions about their responsibilities.  What was the result?  On the first night of VBS instead of having to answer 75 questions I only had to answer about 10.  Everyone was clear as to what our purpose was and how we were planning on making it happen.

Volunteer training was a great time to make sure that everyone knew our theme, verse, and motto.
I made these posters myself using publisher and my local office supply store to get them printed.  

4) I held all of my VBS inside- 

While I realize that this may not work for everyone due to space and size issues, it worked for us and it was miraculous.  If you've ever been in the south in the middle of July you know that it gets HOT and HUMID.  I'm talking can't breathe, covered in sweat after 5 minutes hot.  This year, I made the decision to host all of my VBS (games included) inside.  Which meant that on the nights that it rained or was simply too hot to go outside we didn't break a sweat.  We stayed cool, comfortable, and stress-free knowing that we could still carry-on as planned.
VBS Set!  I was blessed with an amazing props team! 
5) I had a security system-

Absolutely nothing is more important to me in #KidsMin than making sure that the kids who come into my ministry are safe at all times.  With an average of 108 kids every night we knew that we needed a system in place to make sure that everyone made it home with the right person.  Having a system and a plan for this helped cut down on chaos at registration and dismissal as well as helped us feel confident at the end of the night that we had done everything we could to keep our kids safe.

We put together our lobby with decorations that we found in our attic. 
A great tip for decorating on a budget is to go treasure hunting in your church. 
Look in those dark closets that no one uses anymore and recycle what you can.  

6) I took time to experience the magic-

VBS can be a very stressful event to put on and being in charge can be a lot to handle.  I spent my week running around like a chicken with its head cut off and could have easily been tired, run-down and frustrated by day 3 and still have two more days to go.  How did I avoid this?  I took 15 minutes every night to just look around at what I created with Jesus' help.  Some nights these 15 minutes were spent standing on the stage and just looking around at the glow in kids eyes.  Some nights I spent these 15 minutes with a small hand tucked in mine.  Some nights I spent those 15 minutes dancing for Jesus at Worship Rally.  The point is to give yourself time, as the Director or volunteer, to truly be in the moment.  Take time to experience the excitement and wonder of what you created.

One night I experienced the magic by eating popcorn with one of our younger visitors. 
They loved having Miss Mary eat popcorn with their crew.  

7) I divided kids into crews by their school grade-

This helped tremendously.  We had 8 different crews divided by Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade.  If we saw someone who had slipped away from their crew we were easily able to figure out what crew they were in and where they were supposed to be.  Well-defined ages for our crews also helped with getting everyone registered quickly.  This was a simple and easy way to cut down on the chaos.

8) I had a clean up day after VBS- 

We ended our VBS on a Friday night and at the end of the night all of my volunteers were left completely tired.  We decided that instead of staying until 12:00 PM on Friday to clean up that we would come in on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM to help clean up from VBS.  This enabled us to leave the church completely clean and put back together.  It's important to remember in all ministry that we share spaces with one another so I always abide by the rule to leave a space better than you found it.  Hosting a clean up day also gave an opportunity for people to serve who couldn't serve during the week because of conflicts.  Its a win-win for everyone!

9) I had a plan for promotion-

They key to my kids ministry was promotion, promotion, promotion!  I promoted my VBS in lots of different ways.  I sent postcards to people who attended last year as well as everyone who attends my Wednesday night program.  I placed an ad in the newspaper that ran the two weeks before VBS.  I promoted our VBS almost daily on my ministry's social media and website.  (My volunteers were probably tired of seeing status' about VBS.)  I had flyers for our church family and volunteers to fill out.  I had a banner outside of our church property, and I had posters made for our volunteers to put up at their work and businesses.  I really believe that this is the one reason that our VBS was so big this year.  Our goal was to make sure that everyone in our community knew what was happening.

One of my many social media posts reminding everyone of how long until VBS.  

10) I had a plan for follow up- 

VBS is a great opportunity to reach out into your community.  We had a huge portion of visitors to our VBS.  If I had to guess at a percentage I would say that about 40% of our kids this year were visitors and this was huge.  This is an extra 40 people who we had the opportunity to reach out to Jesus.  We had 50+ kids accept Jesus into their hearts on Wednesday.  On Thursday we had the opportunity to meet with all of them and to talk to them about what it means to have Jesus in your life.  On Sunday, we hosted our VBS celebration in our morning service.  After VBS, I sent postcards to everyone who attended thanking them for coming and giving them the dates of our upcoming events and Wednesday night kick-off.  As a result, we are experiencing record numbers in our Wednesday night ministry.  Having a plan for follow-up is absolutely crucial.  You want everyone who attends your church to know that they are loved, welcome, and cared about at all times, and not just during VBS.

This is what I did to make my VBS successful.  Most importantly, I stayed calm and stayed open to the Lord's leading and guidance my the very beginning to the very end.

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